Blog Archives

The Naked Truth

Posted on by Steve Carr / Comments Off on The Naked Truth

I was listening to public radio in the car the other morning, not because I don’t like music, but because the fancy navigation system befuddles me with its array of options and endless data feeds.

“Hello, Master, are you sure you want to listen to rap music? It’s not on your favorites list. May I suggest a caffeine-free caramel latte while I locate an appropriate channel? Remember to slow down for the school zone ahead.”

The radio host was interviewing the author of a book titled, Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data. Of course I was intrigued—it had the word “naked” in it. The naked truth is, middle age has little affect on certain Pavlovian effects. I’m conditioned. The hook worked. I listened.

I always loved statistics (except for my .025 Little League batting average). It was high school algebra I dreaded. When asked, for example, which of two trains traveling in different directions at different speeds would reach the station first, I was more interested in knowing which one carried the long-legged Borah High School dance team. Who cares if it arrived a little late? Team or no team, those classes that required a slide rule were dreadfully intimidating.

Anyway, statistics were cool, as in, on average, “How many Bonneville High School students does it take to screw in a light bulb?” (I went to the other school.) The answer of course was zero. Those farm kids didn’t have electricity. You see, you need the important facts. Continue reading

This content is available for purchase. Please select from available options.
Register & Purchase  Purchase Only

Backyard Skiing

Posted on by Margaret Fuller / Comments Off on Backyard Skiing

My friend Betty and I crouched in the sagebrush taking pictures of the flowers up on the Midvale Hill. She said, “My neighbor used to ski up here.”

“What?” I replied. “Skied? You can’t be serious.”

“Yes. A rancher pulled skiers uphill in his logging sleds.”

She must have been mistaken. There wouldn’t have been enough snow for a ski area here. I snapped a few more photos, thinking only of focus and aperture, trying to capture the vast hillside of buckwheat and arrowleaf balsamroot in bloom, the gold and the cream flowers accented by purple evening shadows.

A few years later, when my oldest son Doug got a Christmas present of a book on Montana’s former ski areas, he said, “Mom, you should write a book on Idaho ski areas, all the lost areas. I bet Idaho has more than Montana.”

I told him no, I didn’t know enough about skiing. He should find someone in the ski business to do it, or write it himself. “You’re the one who knows about skiing,” I said. He had been head coach at a Wyoming ski area for seven years and for a Colorado area for another year before he got tired of the parents of the young racers and went to grad school. Doug kept after me for a year, until I agreed to write the book. I agreed only after he said he’d help me. Soon I was receiving long lists of ski areas from him by e-mail, and bits of information on famous skiers I had never heard of.

That’s how I found myself in the Weiser library, scrolling through microfilm of the Weiser Signal and Weiser American on an ancient reader that sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. I had remembered what Betty said, and had asked her what year it was that her neighbor skied. She told me it was in the 1930s, and I started looking through the papers beginning after Sun Valley opened in December 1936. Continue reading

This content is available for purchase. Please select from available options.
Register & Purchase  Purchase Only

Confessions of a Lazy Gardener

Posted on by Alice H. Dunn / Comments Off on Confessions of a Lazy Gardener

After a long, cold Idaho winter, I like to dig in the dirt. The fresh air and exercise feel good. However, when I first started gardening, I quickly realized that I was lazy.

The good thing about this is that it inspired me to devise easier ways to grow plants. At first I raised a few flowers, but my husband groused, “We can’t eat flowers.”

Too lazy to even think about a half-acre vegetable garden, I considered planting vegetables among the flowers. Then I had a better idea: turn that little corner of the back lawn that gobbled up water but nobody uses into a vegetable garden.

Being lazy, I hoodwinked neighborhood kids into helping remove the sod. We filled in where the sod had been with topsoil and well-rotted manure. After my husband tilled them in, our Idaho bench soil was still too heavy with clay, so he added sawdust. Had the soil been boggy, he would have added sand, but we knew that clay plus sand equals concrete.

Our tiller gave off nasty fumes, was hard to start, required costly maintenance, left furrows that required lots of raking, and my husband never seemed to find time to ply the heavy beast. After several springs of waiting on the tilling before I could plant, I heard a professional gardener say that although tilling breaks up the top few inches of soil evenly and finely, its vibrations pound the deeper soil into a hardpan that resists root formation and impedes water absorption. Inspired—and tired of waiting—I got out my shovel and found spading less onerous than nagging. And the shovel did dig much deeper than tilling—as deeply as my foot could push it into the ground. Continue reading

This content is available for purchase. Please select from available options.
Register & Purchase  Purchase Only

The Scroll

Posted on by John Hand / Comments Off on The Scroll

Before nightfall on April 18, 2011, most of Phyllis Hand’s family arrived home in Boise, gathering in the way families do under the circumstances of a death: with laughter, tears, shared angst for our surviving father, and the knowledge that we needed to plan a wake and a funeral. Though she was seventy-nine and had recently experienced health problems, her death came as a shock.

Each of her six children acted according to their gifts and instincts. The eldest, Kathi, envisioned a funeral mass for our “cradle Catholic” mother while her sisters, Karen and Kris, focused on bringing comfort to Dad. My brothers, Dave and Marty, became hosts and took steps to make sure everyone experienced solace amid bits of levity. We quickly realized that because of the Easter calendar, Mom’s funeral would be delayed, which also meant everyone would be home together for the week, Mom’s final triumph.

I volunteered to draft her obituary and found comfort in my home’s isolation and from a book, If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name, Heather Lende’s story of life (and death) in Haines, Alaska, her adopted hometown. Heather writes obituaries in the local paper and her words helped me craft a meaningful (if quite long) summary of Mom’s life. Dad and my siblings made a few changes but liked the obituary. At that moment, their opinions were the only ones that mattered.

But this story is not about an obituary or a funeral. It’s about a scroll. Continue reading

This content is available for purchase. Please select from available options.
Register & Purchase  Purchase Only

Kendrick–Spotlight

Posted on by Jim Fazio / Comments Off on Kendrick–Spotlight

Blackberries don’t have the allure of mountain huckleberries, but on my cereal or mashed into jam for toast, I think they are hard to beat. Besides, I’m an impatient sort of guy and they fill my containers much faster than the little huckleberries.

Blackberries are why my wife Dawn and I leave Moscow late each summer, make our way to Troy, and then wind down State Highway 99 to arrive at the thriving little community of Kendrick. Continue reading

This content is available for purchase. Please select from available options.
Register & Purchase  Purchase Only

Find the Cost of Freedom

Posted on by Keith Knight / Comments Off on Find the Cost of Freedom

I first met Anna Halsey, (no relation to Admiral Halsey of Navy fame) in Coeur d’Alene in the 1980s. During that brief encounter, she impressed me as a dignified and devout woman, but it wasn’t until many years later, when her name came up in a conversation with a friend, that the story of her remarkable family came to my attention. Continue reading

This content is available for purchase. Please select from available options.
Register & Purchase  Purchase Only

House in the Air

Posted on by Gary Oberbillig / Comments Off on House in the Air

I was to be a roustabout, as my father Ernie described it, doing whatever roll-up-your-sleeves, muscle jobs were needed in the family mining operations in Valley County that summer of 1961.

Part of the job would be to act as a watchman at the old mercury mine at Cinnabar, and to keep busy with preliminary salvage work on the collapsed roof of the main mill building. Continue reading

This content is available for purchase. Please select from available options.
Register & Purchase  Purchase Only

How to Catch a Skunk

Posted on by Harvey Hughett / Comments Off on How to Catch a Skunk

Of the many skunks that I’ve caught over the years, including a number in northern Idaho’s Latah and Benewah Counties, I only got sprayed a few times, always in the hand as I was trying to grab and pin the tail.

Simply put, I missed the skunk’s tail but the skunk didn’t miss me. No one believes me, but if the tail is pinned properly, this paralyzes the skunk’s stink mechanism and it cannot spray. Continue reading

This content is available for purchase. Please select from available options.
Register & Purchase  Purchase Only

Save Copper Basin

Posted on by Mahlon Kriebel / Comments Off on Save Copper Basin

“Bandi! Bucx!” Lloyd Warr’s call drifted through a curtain of fog tangled in the sagebrush, shrouding the morning sun. Obviously, his mules had bolted. I had met Lloyd the previous day, when he arrived at Lake Creek Camp. He said he lived in Rupert and he and his companions from Buhl belonged to the Idaho Draft Horse and Mule Association.

I had always thought mules were untrustworthy, but Lloyd explained that breeders select mares and jacks for temperament. Anyway, it was too early to rise, as my four friends and I on this trip into Copper Basin, in the Salmon-Challis National Forest, had talked well past our bedtime. The campfire, which had sealed us in from the cold night, had burned out, and none of my rough-and-tough storytellers had emerged to start the fire. “Bandi, Bucx …” receded as Lloyd made his way along the Copper Basin Loop Road.

“Bandi, Bucx … hay, oats.” Pulling on my boots, I decided to help. Ron had just begun to prepare coffee and Quint was kindling the fire. I called, “Breakfast can wait,” and gunned my off-road vehicle (ORV) towards the voice. To the west, Standhope Peak and Big Black Dome, both rearing nearly 3,500 feet above the basin floor, were pink and red in the morning glow of lifting fog. Driving up alongside Lloyd, I asked, “Can I help?”

Lloyd, about my age, seventy something, replied, “Damn mules, they’ve never bolted.”

I knew we could drive cross-country and, with luck, catch the feckless mules. “Hop on.”

Lloyd hesitated. “I’ve never been on one of these contraptions.”

“Well, this ain’t an ordinary ORV. It’s equipped with a passenger seat.” Continue reading

This content is available for purchase. Please select from available options.
Register & Purchase  Purchase Only

A Bow over the Big Wood

Posted on by Karen Bossick / Comments Off on A Bow over the Big Wood

The autumn sun filtered through towering trees as I shuffled through the leaves on the floor of the eighty-acre Draper Preserve in Hailey. Suddenly, I came upon a sixteen-foot steel arrow with three-foot fletches sticking out of the ground.

“What the—?”

As I studied the arrow, it became apparent that it was pointing to a new bridge spanning the Big Wood River. But this was not just any bridge. It was a beautifully crafted structure of Douglas fir in the shape of a bow. A recurve bow, to be precise—a target precision-shooting bow, with wingtips that curve away from the archer when the bow is strung, to give the arrow more acceleration.

The 160-foot Bow Bridge’s designer, Sun Valley resident Leslie Howa, stood on it squinting into the sun as she sized up the twenty-pound leaf made of galvanized steel that Erik Nilsen was about to hang from its rafters. “I told the Wood River Land Trust I’m not a bridge builder, but I have an idea for a design like no other,” she told me as she took a breather.

Leslie, who studied at the San Francisco Art Institute, was for years a designer of backcountry and other outdoor clothing for large corporations. She helped start a clothing company that specializes in mountaineering and climbing wear, even while doing industrial community art projects on the side for cities like Ogden, Utah. The bridge, designed for the Wood River Land Trust, helps fulfill a dream that the trust’s director, Scott Boettger, has held of beautifying this area of river ever since he moved here in 1997. Continue reading

This content is available for purchase. Please select from available options.
Register & Purchase  Purchase Only